JOHN PEEL Biography - Socialites, celebrities and People in the fashion industry


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Name: John Robert Parker Ravenscroft                                                 
Born: 30 August 1939 Heswall, England                                                 
Died: 25 October 2004 Cusco, Peru                                                     
John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, OBE (30 August 1939 – 25 October 2004), known       
professionally as John Peel, was an English disc jockey, radio presenter and         
journalist. Known for his eclectic taste in music and his honest and warm             
broadcasting style, John Peel was a popular and respected DJ and broadcaster. He     
was one of the first to play reggae and punk on British radio. His significant       
influence on alternative rock, pop, British hip hop and dance music is               
acknowledged. He was the longest-serving of the original DJs of BBC Radio 1,         
broadcasting on it from 1967 until his death in 2004.                                 
Peel was born in Heswall Cottage Hospital in Heswall on the Wirral Peninsula,         
near Liverpool, and grew up in the nearby village of Burton. His father was an       
upper middle class cotton merchant, and he was sent away to be educated as a         
boarder at Shrewsbury School. His housemaster, R H J Brooke, whom Peel described     
as "extraordinarily eccentric" and "amazingly perceptive", wrote on one of his       
school reports:                                                                       
Perhaps it's possible that John can form some kind of nightmarish career out of       
his enthusiasm for unlistenable records and his delight in writing long and           
facetious essays.                                                                     
In his posthumously published autobiography, Peel revealed that he had been           
subjected to sexual abuse by an older pupil while at Shrewsbury. His decision to     
reveal this was praised by campaigners for children's rights.                         
After finishing his National Service in 1959 in the Royal Artillery as a B2           
Radar Operator, he worked as a mill operative at Townhead Mill in Rochdale and       
travelled home each weekend to Heswall on a scooter borrowed from his sister.         
Whilst in Rochdale Monday to Friday he stayed in a bed and breakfast in the           
Milkstone Road / Drake Street area.                                                   
In 1960, he went to the United States to work for a cotton producer who had           
business dealings with his father. Once this job had finished he took a number       
of others, including working as a travelling insurance salesman, remaining in         
the United States until 1967. While in Dallas he spoke to John F. Kennedy as the     
Presidential candidate and Lyndon B. Johnson toured the city during the 1960         
election campaign. Following Kennedy's assassination he passed himself off as a       
reporter for the Liverpool Echo in order to attend the arraignment of Lee Harvey     
Oswald and he and a friend can be seen in the footage of the press conference         
shortly before Oswald's assassination. He later phoned in the story to the           
Liverpool Echo.                                                                       
While working for an insurance company based in Dallas, Texas, filing card           
programs for an early IBM 1410 computer (which led to his entry in Who's Who         
noting him as a former computer programmer), he got his first radio job, albeit       
unpaid, working for WRR Radio in Dallas. There he presented the second hour of       
the Monday night programme Kat's Karavan. Following this, and as Beatlemania hit     
the United States, Peel got a job as the official Beatles correspondent with the     
Dallas radio station KLIF, due to his connection to Liverpool. He later worked       
for KOMA in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma until 1965 when he moved to KMEN in San           
Bernardino, California, using the name John Ravencroft to present the breakfast       
I had been working on radio in America since 1961, initially Dallas, Texas; then     
I got into it full time as a Beatle expert in Oklahoma City in '64/66. I was in       
California for a year and half in San Bernadino, came back here [to Britain] in       
'67 and was by and large unemployable at the time. I hadn't anything to come         
home to. Just luck really, being in the right place at the right time, music         
lovers might argue the wrong place at the wrong time.                                 
While in Dallas in 1965 he married his first wife, Shirley Anne Milburn, in what     
Peel later described as a "mutual defence pact". She was only 15 at the time, a       
fact she successfully concealed from Peel, and both her parents had recently         
died. The marriage was never happy and although Shirley accompanied Peel back to     
Britain in 1967 they were soon separated. The divorce became final in 1973. She       
later committed suicide.